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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: 42.6299, 24.3443
Some quick observations/tidbits on Bulgaria discovered during the first few days:
Bulgarian music videos appear to be of only two types - either cheesy, traditional folk-music, featuring homely Bulgarian women, or Eurotrashy and blinged-up ones, with scantily-clad Bulgarian beauties bouncing around. When it comes to the latter, I'm not complaining.The Bulgarian version of "Just For Laughs: Gags" is much like the original Canadian version, except that all the jokes involve half-naked Bulgarian beauties bouncing around. Once again, I'm not complaining.The Bulgarian version of "The Voice" - judges seem to only choose performers who sing in English, no matter how badly. Case in point, a dude starting belting out a horrific version of "The Final Countdown", wailing like a pig at the slaughterhouse, and within three seconds of starting a judge had already hit the "yes" button. And no matter how well a performer sings on the show, doing so in Bulgarian all but guarantees getting booted off of the show. But perhaps if female contestants were to bounce around half-naked on stage, that might guarantee a spot in the finals. If that happens, yet again, I'm not complaining.Bulgarians have a slightly comical bobble-head type of movement when nodding "yes", kind
Bulgarian Breakfast ...
... some greasy savoury french toast, fried egg, sliced ham, salty gouda-like cheese, and some good toast with butter and jam, rounded out with some OJ, weak coffee and later on, a big juicy white nectarine.
of a wavy side-to-side head movement, which is very ambiguous for those that aren't familiar with the gesture. I had no idea what this meant when I asked a museum worker if I could take pictures, until ten seconds with a confused look across my face finally made her say "Da, da, da!" (Yes, yes, yes!) This has caught me on quite a few occasions.
Even more confusing, what is considered a nod of "yes" for us, is actually "no" for Bulgarians.
To confuse things even worse, some kind Bulgarians who understand our confusion, will nod the way we are used to, doing our up-and-down nod to indicate "yes", in an effort to help us out. The problem is that if we are familiar with Bulgarian nods, we would think they were saying "no", when in fact the answer was "yes". Make sense? Bulgaria has the dubious distinction of being the first former Communist country to have broken free from the Iron Curtain, only to immediately elect the Communist party back into power. Now called the Bulgarian Socialist Party, they have been in and out of power over the past two decades. Though still super-friendly, Bulgarians are cynics at heart, largely because
Half-Assed Repairs ...
... after over ten trips in five years and countless kilometres walked, my Chaco sandals disintegrated today, ripped all the way from the left side to the middle, clean through both the foot bed and sole. Thank goodness for some duct tape that I've been carrying around for the same five years, in the event of such an emergency.
of the turbulent history. 500 years under Ottoman rule followed by 50 under the Soviets ... makes sense, as they are still struggling to recover from Communism. Perhaps this cynicism is why I like it here, I fit right in!It has been said that for 50 years of Soviet rule, 50 years are needed for a full recovery from the regime. Right now, they are only about halfway through that, so there is a long way to go, with people skeptical of any significant short-term improvements. Joining the EU a few years back has helped, because questions are asked of where the money is being spent, which means more accountability and less money being surreptitiously funneled to organized crime.Politics of the EU - sounds funny, but some Bulgarians are upset that all their potatoes and tomatoes are being imported from Turkey, which are more expensive and of lesser quality. Nobody understands why, but it's how it is. Bulgarians are super proud of their history - ended up getting quite the Ancient Thracian history lesson from the Hotel Panorama's owner. Thinking of Bulgaria, I used to only know about some of the Soviet history, and never realized what a story this
Hiking in the Sredna Gora ...
... well, not quite, though that was the original plan. Having some language difficulties at the TI, I wasn't able to get any useful info and just started wandering up into the hills above Koprivshtitsa. It wasn't so much a hike as a long walk into the trees.
nation had to tell, with Thracians tribes inhabiting Bulgaria starting in 4000 BC. Beyond the Thracians, Bulgaria was settled as early as 6000 BC.Bulgaria rocks!That's the history lesson for this trip. Time to drink some more fine Bulgarian wine!
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